Customer story: The Scottish Government

National Conversations
'screenshot of 'The Scottish Government
'screenshot of 'The Scottish Government

Seeking public opinion on COVID-19 response

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government needed to seek public opinion on appropriate frameworks for easing lockdown measures across Scotland.

The Scottish Government chose Dialogue to run a national conversation, an ambitious crowdsourcing exercise with the Scottish people.

The exercise was extremely popular – over 4,000 ideas and over 16,000 comments were posted in a week.

But success in this instance can’t simply be measured in numbers. Crowdsourcing is a simple enough concept, but there’s a great deal of nuance between doing it well and doing it poorly. This one was run very well and is an example of best practice.

The challenge (question) was specific and relevant

People are unlikely to respond to topics they don’t feel relate to them/they don’t know much about.

Rather than asking something like ‘what are your thoughts on COVID-19?’, the Scottish Government asked people about how lockdown affected them, and what their priorities would be if the lockdown was eased – for example, the reopening of businesses, when kids should be allowed back to school, and visiting relatives. This way the challenge remained relevant to pretty much everyone in Scotland.

Lots of promotion

The clue’s in the name: for crowdsourcing, you need a crowd.

This issue affected the whole of Scotland (as well as beyond Scotland’s borders) so for this exercise to be effective they needed a good number of participants. The Dialogue was promoted widely and got picked up by national news outlets.

Remaining transparent and notifying participants of outcomes

As well as the Herculean amount of work involved in pre-moderating 4000+ ideas and over 16000 comments, the Scottish Government team also put a lot of effort in to providing frequent updates on their progress.

The analysts for the project blogged about their preliminary findings before the challenge had closed, followed by a further update a few days later. They updated the main Dialogue challenge page with a link to the blog so that anyone visiting the page could see what had happened so far.

Popular ideas and topics included: quality of life; what could help people to comply with lockdown; visiting other households; and allowing pupils to return to school.

The ideas and comments were thoughtful, emotive and well considered. Pre-moderation meant that the team could ensure the conversations didn’t go off-course, but the quality of the discussion was driven by those taking part. The Dialogue was a testament to the consideration people took when getting involved, and the Scottish Government’s commitment to working openly through the COVID-19 pandemic.

We didn’t want it to become a platform for people to share conspiracy theories, but people were very sensible…they moderated themselves.

The Dialogue feature that asks ‘why is this idea important’ is great because it makes the respondent think twice about what they’re saying and then argue the case for their idea. If you look at some of the conversations that went on, that was a big part of why it was successful.

Digital Engagement Team, The Scottish Government

Want a real person to walk you through a live demo?

We’re happy to help out. We'll answer all your questions. We won't share your contact details.

Request a Free Demo